Frequently Asked Questions

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As of now (September 2020), I am seeing all patients over Telehealth.

When Covid became a clear concern, clinicians had to consider whether one of two options would be best: 1) face-to-face therapy with masks/PPE or 2) Teletherapy.
Although in-person has advantages, as of now the American Psychiatric Association and many clinicians note that the risk of being in a small therapy room for an extended period of time (usually in offices that are not equipped with hospital filtration systems or a flow of fresh air) is not a safe option. (Plus, therapy with masks on may feel awkward!).

We are fortunate that we have great modes of connecting virtually. We even have research showing that Teletherapy can be just as effective as face-to-face therapy. And, I have found that I can get to know some patients better when I see them at home in their ‘comfort zone’. Many patients over the last several months have told me they prefer this option! While I hope to get to see everyone in person soon, I see great benefits with Telehealth for now.

I have limited availability for new therapy patients. When I do have availability, there may be one or two specific time slots that are open for new patients. The schedule shifts and more spaces do occasionally open up and I am able to bring in a new client from the pool of new patient inquiries I have received. If you are interested in the possibility of working together in the future, please feel free to leave your information via the contact form. If it appears that you would be a good fit for a spot that opens up in the future, I will contact you at that time to discuss our options. I am also happy to provide other referral options in the meantime.

I may be able to accommodate clients seeking diagnostic evaluations, depending on your needs and availability. There are some limitations and caveats to doing testing over Telehealth, so I am happy to discuss that further with you personally, as this differs on a case by case basis.
Like many private providers, I do not take insurance and I am considered ‘out of network’. I provide clients with a Superbill in case they are able to submit to insurance for reimbursement. Services may be covered in full or in part by your health insurance, but the policies vary and it will depend on your specific policy.

I have an office in Naples Plaza in Long Beach, where I see patients 2-3 days per week. I also see patients at The Weichman Clinic in Newport Beach 1-2 days per week. I conduct therapy and diagnostic evaluations (assessments) at both locations.

* All patients are being seen over Telehealth as of September 2020.

Yes, I work with both adults and children.

As a Child Clinical Psychologist, I am trained as both a general Clinical Psychologist and I have specific training as a Child Psychologist. Rather than specializing in a specific age range, my specialty is in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) across the age range. More specifically, I conduct diagnostic evaluations for individuals from toddlerhood through adulthood. I conduct therapy (treatment) with children aged 7 and older, teens, and adults.

Given my specialty in ASD, the limited number of providers who have expertise in this area, and the limited availability in my practice, I prioritize autistic clients and their families (siblings and parents). A client does not necessarily need to have a diagnosis of ASD to be a good ‘fit’ for my practice, but most of my clients report a history of social challenges or other symptoms that are consistent with ASD.
Comorbidity is the coexistence of two or more psychiatric diagnoses at the same time. For example, it is quite common for an autistic person to also have symptoms of anxiety and/or depression. Often, these ‘comorbid’ symptoms become more interfering and impairing than the core symptoms of ASD themselves, and this is often what prompts the seeking of therapy or other diagnostic clarification. There are effective approaches available to target these comorbid symptoms.
While my background and training is in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), I consider my approach to be eclectic, such that I incorporate strategies from various approaches depending on the individual needs of the client. I rely on approaches that are evidence-based (i.e., there are clinical trials and data supporting the use of certain approaches). I have specialized training in CBT that has been modified for autistic individuals who also have symptoms of anxiety and/or depression. These strategies tend to work best with children aged 7 or older, adolescents, and adults with intact language abilities.
Standard therapy sessions are 50 minutes. Initial intakes for therapy or assessment are typically 90 minutes.

Standard therapy sessions are 50 minutes. Initial intakes for therapy or assessment are typically 90 minutes.The initial intake appointment serves as an opportunity for you and for the therapist to determine if it is a good fit to continue the therapy or assessment process with Dr. Sterling.

This appointment sets the foundation for ongoing therapy and/or assessment. Upon your arrival, the therapist will review your consent forms and any other important paperwork that you were asked to complete. The meeting will be a time to clarify your reason(s) for seeking therapy or an assessment, discuss relevant background information, and collaboratively determine appropriate goals and a plan moving forward.

Parents should come to the intake appointment if they are seeking services for their child. If their child is a teen, it often makes sense to bring the teen to the appointment and to use part of the time meeting with parents and part of the time with the teen (this will be discussed prior to your session). If you are an adult, you may come to the intake by yourself; if you think it is relevant to bring a partner or spouse, please discuss this with Dr. Sterling ahead of time so that she can prepare consent paperwork if necessary.

Parents should come to the intake appointment if they are seeking services for their child. If their child is a teen, it often makes sense to bring the teen to the appointment and to use part of the time meeting with parents and part of the time with the teen (this will be discussed prior to your session). If you are an adult, you may come to the intake by yourself; if you think it A comprehensive assessment is crucial in order for parents, other family members, partners, and teachers to fully understand the individual’s unique strengths and challenges, and ultimately, for the individual to understand him- or herself. We often misinterpret an individual’s behavior when we assume what is driving or underlying the behavior, without fully understanding it. For example, a child who refuses to go on a family outing or engage in a group project at school may be considered ‘oppositional’ or ‘stubborn’ when in fact other factors interfere with participation (e.g., sensory overload, difficulty with transitions, anxiety). A proper assessment provides us with a framework for us to better understand the individual and for them to understand themselves, which ultimately leads to more compassion, empathy, patience, and appropriate strategies to support the child/adult and their family. When an individual has insight and self-awareness of their own differences and needs, they are able to effectively express their needs to others.